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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

UC Davis celebrates World Book and Copyright Day


Festival shut down early due to noise complaints

To celebrate languages and the power of books, the Spanish and Portuguese Department hosted the World Book and Copyright Day in the Sproul Courtyard on April 20.

The Davis chapter of this international event was organized by Ph.D. students with the goal of sharing their passion for reading with others, focusing specifically on language as an art form.

“We want to honor, respect and to remember art and to engage students in reading,” said Silvia Aguinaga, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Spanish linguistics.

The festival was divided into five different sections. Participants first saw the “Languages in Contact” board — a world map covered with a variety of languages, most of them relatively obscure (like Mayan languages). Those who knew the languages were able to take an English word from the stack of papers nearby and translate them to one of the identified languages on the board.

“The point of the board is to encourage people to use these languages,” Aguinaga said. “We believe that if you use a language then it will never die.”

An open mic was one of the highlights of the event, creating a platform for individuals to share their favorite poem verses or sections from books with others, in any language they wished to use. Several language classes used this as an opportunity to gather outside of the classroom and read their assigned books.

“Professors and TAs bring their class and the students bring something to read either from the class or something they like a lot,” Aguinaga said.

Even students, mandated by their professors to attend, enjoyed the change of pace.

“It was fun to be outside and start reading the class book,” said Christina Harber, a second-year English major.

Combining the love of verse and language, the Garden of Verses was a pathway of various quotes in different languages, which, when combined, created one large poem.

“In the Garden, many people can plant a single verse and grow a poem,” said Elena Atanasiu, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Latin American literature.

The festival was also home to the Literary Hairdresser, a makeshift hair-dryer chair made out of a lamp shade. Inside the shade was a headset that allowed the listener to pull the shade over their head and listen to audiobooks.

“If you’re tired and don’t want to read by yourself, you can come to the Literary Hairdresser and listen to someone read to you,” said Rebeca Rubio, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Spanish literature.

The last exhibition was a mini-skit called “Burgers and Books.” Rubio acted as a waiter at a restaurant, seating and taking orders from customers. However, instead of normal food options, the titles of the burgers were book titles. The books were then served between two pieces of bread, as if they were to be eaten.

“The books are served like they are ordinary burgers because just as ‘you are what you eat’ we want to promote the idea that ‘you are what you read’ as well,” Rubio said.

Even though the event has been held in the same location for five years, it was shut down an hour early due to sound complaints from the nearby office building, as it was operated without a sound permit.

“The program of Education complained because we didn’t have sound permit, so they wanted us to stop the [open-mic] readings,” Aguinaga said via email. “Also, they mentioned that we were using their space (that area of the garden) without permission, so they asked us to leave one hour before the closing time […] we never had to ask for permissions [before]. It’s a pity that the Department of Education clipped the wings of several students reading poems and books. Such a contradiction.”

Although it ended early, the event still ran for four of the planned five hours.

“Next year we will take into account the comments from the Educational Department and we will ask for those permissions,” Aguinaga said via email. “But we all enjoyed it and we consider that there was a good amount of students, TAs and professors who participated.”


Written by: Emily Shintani — campus@theaggie.org


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